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WWE 2K15 (PlayStation 4) review: All roads lead to WrestleMania

The Good WWE 2K15 looks great on next-gen console hardware, and it's all too easy to lose a lot of time to the new career mode.

The Bad Features from previous WWE games were lost in the name of graphical upgrades, and even die-hard fans will be tested by the learning curve and constant loading screens.

The Bottom Line WWE 2k15 is a hard game to recommend to someone who isn't a wrestling fan and it's not without its issues, but if you know the difference between an Enziguri and a Senton there's a lot of fun to be had.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that wrestling games aren't very good games. None of them are ever going to be in contention for any game of the year awards. The phrase 'wrestling game' may well conjure up a very specific image of glitchy gameplay, hilarious collision detection and questionable character modelling. They're a hard sell to gamers. Not quite sports games and not quite fighting games, it's not easy to see the appeal.

That said, there is a certain kind of person who'll happily spend a significant amount of time choosing which of 11 possible Spinebusters best suits the move set of the big hoss brawler they're designing in the character creator. (Full disclosure: 7 minutes, and Spinebuster 8.) Without the pick-up-and-play vibe of FIFA 15 or developer 2K's own NBA 2K15, WWE 2K15 is very much made for that kind of person.

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The best and worst thing that can be said for WWE 2K15 is that it's a wrestling game, but under 2K's stewardship, it's one of the better wrestling games to grace consoles in a long while.

The game controls quite well once you wrap your head around everything you can do. Sadly, that's not the easiest process as there's just so much to take in with regard to button combos, positional and context sensitive moves and assorted new mechanics.

2K

If you do manage to grapple with the learning curve, counter-attack prompts are easy to hit and you can use specific moves reliably, but it never feels totally intuitive. WWE 2K15 is nowhere near as glitchy or buggy as some previous wrestling games, but there's still a fair bit of ghosting to get into position to hit some moves, and it's not as responsive as you might like. I rarely found myself doing something I didn't mean to do, but there were plenty of occasions when there was a delay between a button press and the corresponding action.

The game isn't shy about loading screens. Get ready for a lot of them. While the loading screens are understandable, they're a little more frustrating for the soundtrack (curated by WWE's own John Cena) playing on a loop while you're not in a match. Get ready for a lot of that, too.

Luckily, the game sounds great when you're actually in a match. The crowd give nice cues to your performance, and in addition to motion capture on the hundreds of moves available, sound recording was also done. To get that powerslam on to the mat sounding just right. WWE 2K15 also has the WWE commentary teams calling each match. With 30 hours of dialogue per commentator dynamically dropped in during matches, it's a nice touch, but repetition is inevitable.

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2K

There are 25 slots for custom characters on the PS4/Xbox One version, and for male wrestlers only. Apart from the custom characters, the roster has over 60 WWE wrestlers (ladies included) to choose from.

Character creation is fairly in depth, and because of the graphics updates custom wrestlers won't look out of place alongside the existing roster. The face and body customisation options are quite detailed, and it's easy to get custom wrestlers looking just right.

In addition to physical appearance, in-ring and entrance attire also gets a fair bit of attention (gotta get that merchandise looking good). Like most character creators, set aside a good hour to play around with it -- especially because the constant loading screens are more punishing here than anywhere else in the game. One specific option from previous games in the series that was sorely missed was the option to import custom theme music. Here's hoping it returns somewhere down the line.

Customising a move-set is incredibly daunting. There are thousands of options to choose from, and despite a handy graphic showing what body part the move targets, a short animation showing it in action and a useful filtering system, be prepared to spend no small amount of time going through it all.

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Screenshot by Luke Lancaster/CNET

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